Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

Just announced: Underoath, one of the biggest bands in heavy rock and certainly the biggest affiliated in any way with Christianity is playing Headliners May 17th! Norma Jean, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and the Glass Ocean are also set to open.

Some other hard rocking shows are coming to Headliners on Lexington Road soon:

Norma Jean, The Chariot, A Life Once Lost and Handshake Murders are on the fourth of this month. I've haven't seen the other bands, but Norma Jean put a pretty unforgettable show.

Next month, Haste The Day, From Autumn To Ashes, Maylene and The Sons Of Disaster, Alesana & Twelve Gauge Valentine appear on the third. Visit www.headlinerslouisville.com for ticket and other information on all of these shows.

On the contemporary Christian music scene, Avalon, along with new artists 33 Miles and Andrew Carlton, are scheduled to perform at Evangel World Prayer Conference Center April 20. While Avalon has performed in Louisville many times, this marks the first appearance by 33 Miles. The group's eponymous CD is set to release on the 10th and the group already has a top 20 hit with the song "What Could Be Better."

"We know why God brought us together," says Chris Lockwood, guitarist and vocalist. "We really believe that God has called us to the church. We feel like we've been called to remind the church and ourselves of who we are in Christ and whom we serve. As Christians, we have grace, mercy and power beyond comprehension and understanding. We just want to encourage the church to look to Jesus. Don't forget who you are in Christ."

"We want to just love on God's people," lead vocalist Jason Barton says of the group's mission to encourage the church. "Just because you are a Christian, doesn't mean you live a perfect life. There are plenty of hurts. If we can come into a church and encourage them, build them up, edify them and get them to a place where they are excited about what God's going to do in their life, then we feel like we've accomplished our purpose."

This purpose is reflected in their name, which is a simple metaphor for the 33 years that Christ spent on Earth and how He lived them. "He was a friend to the friendless, He loved the unlovable and He gave of Himself selflessly by dying on the cross in our place so that we could live forever," Jason explains. "We want to follow Christ. We want our 'Miles' to have purpose and meaning and to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. We aren't promised a certain number of miles, so what are we going to do with the "Miles" that we are given?"

Unlike groups which have only vocal talents to provide, 33Miles is made up of three musicians who have all had prior experience as singers and musicians.

Barton knew his calling from an early age. Singing was his passion and he began performing at school and area churches in grade school. He furthered his musical endeavors with a degree in Music from Louisiana Tech University. After college, Jason followed his calling to Nashville, where he signed his first recording contract in 2000. In the course of his career in the Christian music industry, Barton has become an accomplished studio singer as he has performed and toured all over the US and Europe and was nominated for a Grammy in 2003. Barton, however, would be quick to tell you that his greatest achievement is his family. He is married to Jennifer and they have two boys, Jake and Jonah.

Lockwood (guitar/vocal) is a Mobile, Alabama native who majored in Music at the University of Mobile. He spent some time touring and became an in-demand session player. From there, he became the Worship Associate at First Baptist North Mobile where he enjoyed working with the band, orchestra and worship team. Later his prowess on guitar earned him acceptance to the prestigious Berklee School of Music. Today, he resides in Mobile with his wife Joy.

Collin Stoddard, the group's youngest member, grew up in Colorado Springs, CO. Upon graduating from high school, Stoddard decided to pursue a Commercial Music major with an emphasis on Piano Performance at Belmont University. "I knew I wanted to do worship music and God really just clearly directed my steps at Belmont. I felt like it was the place I needed to be," says Stoddard. When he met Barton, he says he saw God providing an opportunity for a new season. "He said, 'Here's a door, open it and step through.' It's been really fun for me to look back and see those dots that got connected."

Good news travels fast in Nashville's music community and as word spread that the three had formed a new group, the doors began opening. The trio signed with INO Records, home to other artists such as MercyMe, Sara Groves, Derek Webb and more. As they began working in the studio with producer Nathan Nockels (Phillip, Craig & Dean, Watermark, Passion) and newcomer Sam Mizell (Jessie Daniels, RJ Helton, & Matthew West) the group's singular sound emerged.

"There is A God" is a poignant ballad that declares the majesty of our heavenly father. "What Could Be Better (The Days Ahead)" is a high-spirited anthem co-written by Jason that is getting great reaction from all who hear it. "This is Now" is a song that reminds the listener no matter how badly they've been broken, God is ready to put the pieces back together again. "Even though we wouldn't place ourselves in the worship category, we certainly had worshippers in mind while recording our record," says Jason.

INO's A&R Director, James Rueger, comments, "In this project, you will hear commercial music at it's very best. 33Miles brings a very well balanced mix of powerful ballads with a touch of country infused pop songs. With our hope being to connect with those who are fans of artists like Rascal Flatts, Casting Crowns, Keith Urban and MercyMe, there is a great collection of songs here that listeners will enjoy from start to finish."

"On our album, listeners will feel a rock moment and hear a country moment and a pop moment," says Barton. "I feel that what is going to make our sound a little bit different musically is that it integrates various musical styles. The listeners will get a taste of each and every one of the influences in our lives and when you fuse all those together, it becomes a unique project. We are forging new territory, not only musically, but also in our own hearts, becoming what we want to be. Everyday it's an adventure."

The church is located at 6900 Billtown Road. The concert is a "Donor Appreciation" concert being put on by WJIE-FM. Ticket info is available at wjie.org.